On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
L is for Lesotho
Three days on horseback is just enough time to get the point that not everywhere in Lesotho can be reached by road. Miles of green pastures and not a few shrubby patches of thin soil was what they were trying to conserve, and transport by horses was a good solution. A tank could reach most of the places that the Footloose Forester visited on an inspection tour in the upper watersheds, but then the impact on the environment would have been horrific.
The Footloose Forester wasn’t a very good horseman, so he wasn’t exactly sure if his horse would cross the rivers at the obvious crossing points. The team leader of our four man team advised him that if the horse (which he himself knew well) didn’t want to make a stream crossing with a man in the saddle, the only other solution was to dismount, take the reins and lead the horse across. Fortunately, the Footloose Forester didn’t have to suffer that challenge. On the other hand, he had all he could do to keep the nag from galloping out from under him, when the string of other horses came within snorting distance and wanted to race each other and the riders on top. That was when the memories of being thrown off a mule--twice--in Cape Verde came back. He could stand the embarrassment of being tossed off again, but at that stage he didn’t want to break a leg some 15 miles from town.
Map and Flag of Lesotho
Lesotho is known as the Mountain Kingdom, but it is so small that it is easy to miss on a map of Africa. Hint: it is the only land-locked African country completely surrounded by only one other country. That country is South Africa. Even tinier Swaziland is nearly swallowed up by bordering South Africa, but a short common border with Mozambique takes it out of the realm of uniqueness as a land-locked island of a country.
Water is one of the chief exports of Lesotho. Water and hydroelectric power, as a package, to South Africa. The engineering works there are impressive. But to see the country and fuse some memories of Lesotho that will last, one should really plan to see the country by horseback.
Although he does not regret the round trip to Lesotho in a rented car from South Africa, he was wondering why the travel agent in Nairobi booked him that way. There was an adequate airport within a mile of his hotel in Maseru, the capital city. The drive from Bloemfontein was after midnight, on narrow mountain roads. Footloose Forester might have had some experience driving cars with the steering wheel on the right and then driving on the left side of the road, but he wasn’t too thrilled with the 100 mile challenge in the dark.